Book Review – ‘#famous’ by Jilly Gagnon

Just one post away from fame.

#famous Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary

No. of pages: 384

From Goodreads:

Rachel Ettinger has flown under the radar for most of high school, exactly as planned. She’d rather focus on getting to New York City, where being the arty playwright is a bonus, not a drawback. Her googly-eyed crush on Kyle Bonham is embarrassing but unimportant. After all, there’s no way she’d ever end up with the King of Apple Prairie High, anyway.

Kyle does make a grease-splattered Burger Barn uniform look dreamy. But aside from flipping patties – and riding the tide of steady drama from his on-again, off-again girlfriend – everything about his life is fairly predictable.

So when Rachel’s jokey picture of Kyle winds up going viral, they’re both taken by surprise. Suddenly Kyle is insta-famous and everyone on the planet knows about Rachel’s silly crush… including Kyle.

Just as they think their lives couldn’t get any more complicated, their fifteen minutes of fame spirals out of control. And what starts out with an innocent photo becomes a whirlwind adventure full of fangirls, haters, and French-fry bouquets that forces them both to question whether fame – and love – is worth the price.

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This was just the cute contemporary I thought it was going to be – but had much more substance than I anticipated. ‘#famous’ deals with themes around social media, instant fame, bullying, and that awkward coming of age moment in life when your morals are tested, and embarrassment can come from just about anything. Parents, socio-economic status, fashion, your body, ooof the list goes on…

I felt this was an intelligent contemporary shedding light on issues that youth today face in the advent of social media and how strong a roll trolls, peers, and media fame impact on individuals, families, and the opportunities they can present to the right promotion-savvy person.

Told in alternating perspectives in each chapter between popular, gorgeous, star jock, Kyle; and artistic, fringe-dweller, Rachel. Jilly Gagnon gives some great character portraits for both the leads, they are both confident and insecure in varying degrees that was both endearing and believable.

#famous Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleThe main plot is predictable, but the storytelling is anything but. I loved Gagnon’s writing style, the comedic timing, the charismatic cast, and underlying themes. ‘#famous’ is definitely the first contemporary to surprise me in this manner in quite a while. The pacing is pretty good, mainly due to the shorter chapters and switching perspectives… and they don’t just tell the opposite side of the story on the same scene – they have their own separate arcs that twist and bump into each other. Their tones are completely different.

We get some great supporting characters and the family of both of our leads have a strong presence in the story. Though the story is simple, it has charm and interest and I would happily recommend this to anyone who loves a light contemporary.

Overall feeling: Sweet. Adorable

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© Casey Carlisle 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Connecting With Professional Writers – Growing Your Network

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Writing in and of itself is a solitary journey, especially in the beginning stages. But when we embark on that publishing and marketing stage it can be extremely difficult and a somewhat insurmountable task. That’s where we need to reach out. Find resources, use editing services, tap into education… but how do you actually grow a network of like-minded professionals short of cold-calling?

I’ve managed to meet published authors and other professionals in the publishing industry through a number of means. But it all comes down to getting involved. Introducing yourself and becoming a part of a conversation. And it doesn’t have to be about writing. Just break the ice, once that is done you can get to more important and exciting matters. Share your experiences.

I’ve attended a number of workshops and seminars and ended up trading emails with people I met there. We keep in contact through social media and arrange the occasional coffee for a chat. I find this helps with staying motivated and meeting others going through the same process reminds me that I’m not alone. Not even in my own neighbourhood.

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I’ve also joined a few facebook writers groups. These are great. We swap tips, critique each other’s works, and pass on great contacts that have been vetted. Heck even if I don’t post much there, just reading everyone else’s chats is invaluable. Additional to that, I’ve garnered great contacts through LinkdIn, and registered State literature sites. Not only do they post up-to-date information on writing competitions, postings for paid work, but also regularly release news on gatherings, seminars and workshops in my area. More and more I’m finding that writing does not have to be such a solitary endeavour.

I’ve also connected with published authors through other social media platforms and emails. Whether it be over the love of their writing, a shared review, or a heads-up on something a bit hokey going on with their book. I can’t tell you how many pirated copies of books I’ve been spruiked. I always notify the author so they can take action… We don’t want our industry leeching money when it is already so hard to make a worthwhile living from.

The concept of business, technology, the Internet and the network. A young entrepreneur working on a virtual screen of the future and sees the inscription: Social media

Growing this kind of network can provide you with great Critical Partners, references for editing services, tips and tricks for marketing your novel, and even contacts to get your foot into the door with traditional publishing houses. It also helps get the word out about your novel. Once you have released your book it can mean having the difference of a ‘Street Team’ spreading the word, and having to do it all yourself (or pay big bucks for advertising.)

If you’re reading this blog post – you already have a valuable source at your fingertips. There are authors-a-plenty with blogs of their own. Post a comment or send a direct message – generally the online community is supportive and will help you on your journey.

So don’t be afraid to reach out. Go to a workshop, attend a seminar, visit a book launch, scout out a writer’s group either in your local area or online, register with writing organisations. We all have to start somewhere, and the more friends and resources you have at your back the better chance you’ll have at success.

Stay Calm and Keep Writing!

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

It’s not just about writing a novel – diversifying writing income

When I tell people I’m a writer, the most common response is – what books have your written, would I have read them? But there is so much more that people have no idea about. Here’s a look at what I’ve done over my writing career to diversify and make a living from writing…

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While I am furiously (and sometimes procrastinating about) working on creating a catalogue of novels to be published in the future as my main objective, my writing career involves much more than just creating fiction.

A lot of what I do also falls under different job titles, which is where the confusion comes from. Content creator, technical writer, copywriter, columnist, freelancing, blogger, and screenwriter, and there are many more depending on how specific you want to get and what industry you are in. Though not all of these pull in a great deal of income, and are not in constant demand, but diversifying has allowed to draw from different sectors of the publishing industry to provide enough money to call myself a fulltime writer.

In the past I’ve written for magazines and newspapers as a social commentator or columnist. A weekly article can be as little as 100 words on whatever topic the editor had deemed is on trend. It was fun, and that type of writing had to be filled with attention grabbing buzz words and dense prose to convey as much meaning in as few words as possible. It felt like “flash-bang” writing. Though you always had to be careful that your facts were correct, and wasn’t offensive in any manner. It was also a case of ‘you’re only as good as your last article’ so there was no chance of phoning it in, or having an off day. You always had to me on point and on trend. It was great when I was younger and hungry for experience and exposure, but I really wasn’t wholly interested in that type of (pseudo-)journalism. I also got to ghost write in this area as well, providing content for a column, or a celebrity. I do very little of this type of writing now. It can be time consuming, a little soul-sucking, and you only get paid if your work gets published.

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Technical writing (and scientific writing) has been my favourite type of writing besides working on a novel. Government studies, textbooks, manuals, and articles for scientific journals. Such a wide variety of topics due to my skill set and experience. This type of writing is all based on fact and concept. There is little room for ruminating. At times you need to support the text with examples and analogies to convey the concept as succinctly as possible. It’s no-mess writing, sorting data into a comprehensible bites, and you get to include pictures, graphics, and graphs to add some colour. Because the writing style is pretty dry, a lot relies on presentation to help keep attention and drive your point home. I love playing with colour, format and layout in this area.

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I’ve been able to work on some scripts for movies and television too. It’s always fun, but never a solitary endeavour. You’re usually working with a couple of other writers and answer to a number of higher-ups. There’s nothing like getting to feed of each other’s creativity and be a part of something much bigger, see the project take on a life of its own. But we were constantly having to reign each other in… as you can guess, a number of writers strung out on redbull and sugar locked in a room creating what-if’s can venture into some pretty crazy territory. But, it is better to be told to scale it back rather than the work is boring and derivative.

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Copywriting has fallen into drafting up brochures and similar material to advertise, or inform, or report on certain subject matter; usually for companies and marketing campaigns who want to deliver a certain message. You need to adopt a particular tone to match the brief and message of the employer. In addition to this has also been a bit of speech writing for presentations, and other gatherings for people who aren’t confident enough to create their own material. You always get specific guidelines and subject matter, so this type of writing is always easier because you get detail. I love discovering the types of language, word choices, and sentence structure to create tone and subtext.

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Content creator – which is more of a new term that encompasses anything around social media. Tweets, posts, blogs. Each medium has a certain style of writing, a particular demographic and reach, so it is always wise to keep that in mind when crafting your post to help sell your brand or your work. I have the most fun here today molding bites for publication from the one point of source material. Plus the reach and attention your platform gets also has an element heavily reliant of images and layout.

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With such a creative medium as writing, your scope for earning a living from it is only limited to your imagination. And it’s like a muscle, you have to keep using it to develop it and hone your craft. Which is great news, it flies in the face of people assuming that writing is a fading industry with the onset of a new technological age. As long as we feel the need to communicate and express ourselves, there will always be a place for writers.

But how do I get any of these types of work you ask? It’s just the same as if you are writing a novel – practice, build a portfolio of solid work, send out query letters and submissions, network…

The point is, you have to work at your craft, become a specialist, and make sure people know about you and can easily find you (discoverability.) Heck I’m still working at it. Let writing open doors (and windows) to give you an income stream. Follow your passion, write what you’re good at writing.

And good luck 😉

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

What you doin’ there Buster?

I’ve been distracted from social media fun, posting, and writing in the last couple of weeks due to this face….

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Buster. The newest addition to my little family. And being a puppy, I have to keep my eyes on him 24/7 and develop octopus arms. Pull him away from chewing power cords, eating strange insects, going to the toilet in the wrong place. Having the fun of the first few nights at home where he wakes you up crying, scared of an unfamiliar place away from his litter. Waking you up at 3 am because he wants to play.

He’s the over-energetic silly-pants all puppies are. With super sharp teeth wanting to chew everything, running and pouncing with unco-ordination. Using my plait as a vine as he plays Tarzan swinging from my hair… or clothes… or anything else he can reach. At 10 weeks old, everything is a new exciting adventure.

Buster 11 Aug 2017.jpgWhen he is asleep he is adorable. And he loves his cuddles once he stops trying to masticate your fingers. A number of times I’ve found him asleep, curled up next to my sneakers or slippers, head buried in the open top like he’s trying to find a missing bone deep within my footwear. But he’s fast asleep, high on the fumes of toe jam.

Buster’s big sparkly eyes stare at you with fascination, and he’s just so little and fragile. I’ve been wanting to add a new canine family member to our troop since last year. We lost our two Maltese X dogs early last year to old age, leaving Baillie (the lovable pooch I inherited from my Mother when she passed away) alone and bored. He’s used to having playmates and was becoming anxious and destructive, especially at times when I had to leave him home alone. Hence the Cavoodle cutie Buster coming into our midst.

He’s definitely playful. Adorable. And just the right fit for our mountain-top family.

Now that Buster has settled in and I’ve puppy-proofed the house, I’ll be able to dedicate my time back to writing without having to search for him every few minutes to find out what trouble he may be getting into next… and I’m sure there will be many a funny tales he creates that I can share to any dog lovers out there on occasion.

These little furbabies enrich my life so much, love unconditionally, and fill an empty house with colour and excitement that makes it feel like a home.

Now if Buster can sit still long enough for me to get a decent photo, he’ll become an Instagram star for sure 😉

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Muttly Mania by Casey Carlisle

 

© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

#book quotes

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A surprisingly good read… I loved the way it portrayed grief and how life continues on afterward without being a complete depression fest. Reminded me that some things aren’t that important, and those that are – to value them every second.

Editor’s remorse… it’s a thing right?

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I have so many articles and posts sitting on my desktop ready to go, but I think I’m having a bout of editor’s remorse. Every time I re-read a document to decide if it is publish-ready, something is holding me back from giving it the tick of approval. Heavens to Betsy – am I boring myself with my own writing?

There is an instinctual feeling I get when I read through a piece of work that says ‘done.’ Though lately it has not been happening as much as I’d like. Sometimes my sense of humour is not translating, sometimes the subject matter feels a little stagnant, and others, well… I’ve seen so many articles posted about the same thing I don’t want to feel like I’m regurgitating identical stuff that is already out there.

My novel writing hasn’t suffered – that is still going strong. And I am still loving taking my shelfies and working with PhotoShop. So, maybe it’s time to come up with a new concept, or a new take on things?

I’m not bothered too much about posting to a schedule, because I’d rather publish things I’m passionate about and happy with. Maybe editor’s remorse is a real mental condition… hmmm, doctor says take three shots of your favourite top-shelf alcohol, dance to some music with your dog in the front yard, and repeat until the blockage is gone. Sounds like a fun remedy to me. But I don’t want the hangover, or my neighbours thinking I’m any crazier than I already am.

So I keep writing new articles until I feel one is worthy to publish, and keep staring at the others trying to work out what it is that has me hesitant to press ‘print.’ If they sit there long enough, I’ll get fed up and simply delete them. Problem solved!

How many of you out there have the same issues as me upon re-reading your work? I pray I’m not the only one.

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Becoming a successful author

Today, it’s not just about writing a book, signing a publishing deal or self-publishing – you need to have a career path and a marketing plan as well.

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It’s not essential, but if you want to have longevity in the industry and earn decent financial recompense for the blood, sweat and tears you’ve invested in your novel, then pop on your thinking cap and start planning and brainstorming now.

If you approach any traditional publisher, they are going to want to know what your future plans are; and what you have already done to reach an audience for your completed manuscript. These days, traditional publishers don’t do a great deal of marketing for your novel either. Most of the time, the backing of their name on your spine opens doors to retail outlets and websites for copies of your brainchild. So yes, you get a wider reach to markets you wouldn’t otherwise get. And, let’s be real. The publisher re-coups all costs out of the proceeds of your sales over the length of your contract. On a side note, you need to be legal savvy in regards to the contract too – you could be losing out more than you think.

So while you reach a more global demographic and market, your return on investment will be much smaller. A publisher will not sign you on one book alone either. The need to see plans for future novels, or more in a series. It makes you a safer investment, a bigger cash cow. It’s more realistic to think about a 5 year, or even a 10 year plan. Know how long it takes you to knock off a book, have it edited and publish ready. Have multiple books already plotted out, and chapter samples for perusal. With such a competitive market, you need to give yourself the biggest possible chance.

All this is also true if you plan on self-publishing. If you want readers to invest in purchasing your novel, they need to know you are a writer of substance and sustainability. Tease them about the next novel coming soon. Hint that your first novel is the first in a series… You want to offer a promise to get them to return. And follow through! That’s why you have that massive plan for years into the future. Know your release dates and work to them. It adds to the buzz of your launches and sales if you can also get them excited about the next release. How many times have you finished a book and wish you could read the next in the series straight away? Cash in you your own hype.

Having this plan also lets you realistically work to deadlines and have a life outside of writing.

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Now for the marketing portion. You need to put a plan in place for how you are going to get the word out, how you are going to connect and engage with an audience. Hand in hand with this you’ll need a centralised place for people to go and find out about you (and your releases.) Be it a website, a facebook page, or another medium, make sure you have something. Update it regularly with whatever is your marketing shtick. Pictures, funny anecdotes, news on your writing progress, writing advice, video clips, top 10 lists, make it is as unique as you are. Because you are your brand.

Ensure the people who read your book also use the medium you are using. For instance, don’t use LinkedIn to promote your children’s book. A little bit of common sense and market research go a long way.

There is tons of advice on the internet on how to use social media and build your brand – it’s literally everywhere. You don’t have to do all of the different social media outlets either. Choose a few that you are comfortable with, that you can use easily, and stick to that.

Calendar out your posts, countdown to a book release, tease the story. Do it for every book you release. Engage with your audience. There is nothing more satisfying to a reader than sending an author of a novel you loved a message and getting a response.

You can also approach a marketing company for help it you aren’t that savvy. Yes it costs money, but marketing is one investment that yields returns. You spent all this time writing your book, don’t you want to give it the best possible chance of becoming a best-seller? Marketing companies can do what is called ambient PR, and they also have contacts within the media industry. That equates to stories in the paper, television appearances, invitations to exclusive events, booking signing tours. And that’s just the basic stuff – maybe you want to get creative. Promote your book by skydiving and releasing pamphlets and live stream it on YouTube… it’s only as limited as your imagination (and let’s face it, your funds.)

Creating all this hype is like putting money it the bank, it grows in interest. People talk, word gets out and you reach a wider audience. That in turn also drives revenue towards your next book release. Just don’t leave too big a gap between releases without any marketing activities. No-one likes dead air. All that hype you generated will be for naught. That’s by you need to plan it out. Lock in calendar dates and go for it.

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It would be nice to simply download a marketing plan from a website – but the reality of it is, you need to create one specific to your brand, product, and demographic. If you write YA, then you’re more likely to reach them on twitter and YouTube, at the cinemas, music festivals… Think of colour, vitality, and a great hook line; create something to grab their attention. Romance readers, probably use facebook and pinterest more, frequent coffee shops and boutique stores… I know I’m generalising, but it’s to give you an idea of where to start.

Take note of marketing campaigns that have caught your interest – can you adapt that idea for your gain?

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Creating a plan of books to be released, and a marketing plan to boot is an author’s business plan and feasibility study rolled into one. You’re taking steps to ensure your novel will sell, showing that you are a good investment, whether to readers, traditional publishers, or to yourself.

Give yourself the best possible chance for success, take some time and start plotting some ideas. Think big. You can always scale back.

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.